Surviving Swedish Winter

To avoid talking about the weather in Sweden would be unjust. What fika (i.e. extensive Swedish coffee-break) would be complete without a silence-breaking discussion on climate patterns?

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Swedes, in their own right, are EXPERTS on climate… That app that tells you if an earthquake is imminent? Yeah, its nestled neatly between the assortment of weather apps on their smartphones. That website that tracks real-time cloud patterns? Its bookmarked in everyone’s web-browser. Tomorrow’s sunrise time? Memorized. Gross-generalization? Fine.

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A lot of prospective globe-trotters worry about the weather as their life journey brings them to Sweden. The common sense answers to these weather-related concerns (dress warm, bring boots, etc.) go without saying, but here I would like to give you some insider tips that I’ve picked up from locals:

 “How can I survive the cold?”

Simple – find the “sunbeam from heaven”. Every so often, a solitary beam of sunlight breaks through the gray skies to embrace the earth and all those that stand in its path. If you are lucky enough to get a spot in the queue, you can get a break from the coldness and simultaneously feel like Simba and Rafiki atop Pride Rock.

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Imagine feeling encapsulated in a magical warm bubble while those less fortunate than you shiver away. You better be quick though – the sunbeam from heaven only has limited capacity and it fills up fast!

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“Will I survive the snow?”

In my hometown of Portland, Oregon (USA), 2mm of snow wreaks havoc on our little city. I’m talking mass panic…destroyed buildings…cars ablaze…

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In Stockholm, you will not only survive in the snow…you will thrive! Plowed roads, graveled sidewalks and expert drivers keep the local transit moving unperturbed. IF your bus happens to be a bit delayed (20minutes), just grab a taxi and the public transport company will reimburse you the cost of your ride!!! See what I mean by thriving in the snow?! And if you are feeling extra eco-friendly, yes – you CAN ski to work!

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…and finally….“How can I survive the darkness?”

With 19 hours of darkness at the peak of winter, sunlight becomes a precious commodity. Stolen from our grasps by cruel Mother Nature we must find a way to combat this gross inconvenience. Many have suggested Vitamin D supplements and sun-lamps, but to them I say: “it doesn’t matter”. You see, we are PhD students. We get up early to tend to our cells and we go home late after analyzing our results. We work hard during the day elucidating disease mechanisms and finding therapeutic targets so that someone else can (hopefully one day) sleep better at night. We choose to sacrifice some daylight in an attempt to help the unfortunate and, to me, this makes everything seem just a little bit brighter. And…if that cheesy dialogue isn’t motivational enough, you could just turn on the lights…

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 All kidding aside, Sweden is an amazing country and the winter brings out much of its incredible beauty. The Northern lights, Ice Hotels, amazing city views…you really shouldn’t miss it on account of the weather. A snowy adventure awaits you!

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